More Florida panthers could die this year than last year’s record number.
Wildlife authorities attribute the mortalities to the endangered animal’s growing population.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials have documented 22 dead panthers so far this year. All but four of the animals died in vehicle collisions. Last year, 41 panthers died.
Darrell Land of FWC says the state’s panther population is estimated at up to 180 animals, compared with a few dozen 30 years ago.
“When the panther numbers had gotten down so low they were no longer occupying a lot of habitat that today they’ve kind of colonized or repopulated,” said Land. “And that’s putting them into the same area where the footprint of humans is starting to expand.”
FWC says panthers are poised to outgrow their primary habitat in southwest Florida. Area landowners have complained of attacks on cattle and other animals.